As a nation, we British love our garden birds! They add colour and movement to a garden – or even the smallest of yards – and we can rest assured that, especially in the colder months, they are grateful for the food we put out for them. Smaller birds – such as the tit family, the much-loved robin, and many others including sparrows, nuthatches and more – find it difficult to get to their natural food at some times of the year, so what we put out for them is essential if they are going to survive. Indeed, watch a small bird feed, and you’ll see it needs a lot of food to keep itself going!
Then there are the medium-sized birds, such as blackbirds and starlings. They tend to feed on the ground, where they will find cast-off seed from bird feeders hanging above, but they also need a steady stream of food that is surplus to their usual natural diet. But, there’s a problem: pigeons. Now, pigeons are birds too, but in the garden they tend to dominate, and being bigger and more powerful, they don’t have the difficulty experienced by smaller birds in getting hold of their food.
Keeping pigeons away from the food we put out for the smaller birds is something that a lot of people choose to do – especially in towns and cities where pigeons can be a nuisance, not to mention rats and mice – so we have taken a look at some of the pigeon-proof bird feeders that you can buy for your garden. Note that some of these are also designed to be squirrel-proof: cute as they may be, grey squirrels are also destructive vermin, and should not be encouraged. If you are lucky enough to have red squirrels as visitors, we recommend you set up a separate feeding station for them, away from that intended for the birds.
So, let’s check out some of the best pigeon-proof bird feeders, and see how we can keep your small birds happy in the lean months!
The Top Pigeon-Proof Bird Feeders
1: Selections Ground Feeder Haven Cage
We looked at a few different types of bird feeder – some hanging, and some that are designed for ground-feeding birds: this is one of the latter, and is built to a size that should allow the likes of blackbirds and starlings to get to the food. We’re not sure, however, that it will deter a squirrel – a very lithe and versatile animal – and being ground-based, we also have concerns about mice and rats, but it’s nevertheless an interesting idea and is nicely made. Reading the manufacturer description, they admit that – in fact – this one will allow pigeons in; the idea is the larger birds eat here, the smaller ones elsewhere in safety.
This one measures 50cm across, which makes it quite a large item, and features a cage-like construction that allows the birds to get in to where the food sits on a central, hanging tray. It’s finished in black and made from galvanised steel, comes with a number of satisfied customer comments – one of whom mentions crows don’t use it and adult squirrels can’t get in – and while not the cheapest, is certainly worth a look. We are still concerned about ground feeding, however, but that’s up to you.
2: Nature’s Market BF008S Feeder Squirrel Guard
Nature’s Market has a comprehensive range of bird feeders and garden accessories, and this hanging bird feeder is one of them. What you get is a typical cylindrical plastic seed feeder – the familiar type with holes at the bottom where the birds get the seed from – but it is surrounded by a metal cage, which is apparently the ‘squirrel guard’. More of that in a moment, but first, it’s very cheap at not much more than £5, is 23cm high x 15cm in diameter, and is designed to hang from a hook or branch in traditional style.
Now, back to the squirrel guard: while a good number of users say that it does the job – keeps the larger birds and the squirrels out while the small birds feed happily – an equal number say it not only does not protect against squirrels, but they actively get their heads through the gaps and chew the plastic holder until it is destroyed. Plus, pigeons can get their heads through too. You might want to take a chance at the price, but we’re not sure this one is up to scratch.
3: Gardman Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof
This model is very similar in design to that above – it’s a hanging tubular bird feeder located within a ‘squirrel proof’ cage that is made from steel for durability – and while it is more sturdy and clearly of better build, it suffers from some of the same problems. It’s also far more expensive – you could buy three of the above for the price of one of these – and while very popular indeed with more than 500 buyers, and many of those commenting favourably, there are problems.
This one features a plastic cap which is opened to fill the tube with seed. It would appear that, in many different locations, squirrels are very dextrous, and quickly work out how to open this cap. They then simply dig in and scatter the seed everywhere. However, we have no reports of pigeons getting at this one so it appears to work on that level, but it fails where the bushy-tailed rodents are concerned. There’s also no tray for catching the waste seed, which means it falls to the ground and attracts rats, mice, pigeons – and squirrels!
4: Gardman Natural Bird Feeder
Another from the Gardman range, this is a very similar design to the one above but bigger, and also comes with many satisfied customer reviews – indeed, more than 2000 people have rated this model from one outlet we looked at. In fact, this one actually does – apparently – keep squirrels at bay but for a very few examples, and also deters pigeons. So far so good, it would seem that we’ve found a bird feeder that does what we have been looking for with few complaints.
So, is this the one for you? Well, it could be, but the few complaints we have seen are in the vein of ‘birds don’t like using this’ which is a concern, but others say – and this is very much the most frequent comment – that it does the job. This one must have a lid that the squirrels have yet to figure out! It’s good, then, according to those who have bought it, and with so many buyers who are we to disagree!
5: Peckish Decorative Bird Feeder Squirrel Proof
We have discovered, then, that squirrels are clever little creatures; after all, we’ve all seen the videos of them tackling obstacle courses to get to a feeder! But not so pigeons, who seem to rely on luck and waste for their daily feed. This feeder is definitely decorative – it’s designed to look like an old-style birdcage and is very attractive – and it’s also surprisingly affordable, but is it any good? It is made from metal so is durable, and also has a base plate to stop seed falling to the floor, and it does look nice in its shabby chic finish.
Well, while it is probably good enough to deter pigeons and other birds, there is a video posted by one buyer showing a squirrel within the feeder, happily feasting, so it’s not squirrel proof. However, many people have commented that it does the job, so perhaps this was one of a few very inventive squirrels? As we said, they are clever creatures, but perhaps yours won’t be quite so clever. It’s pretty, it’s sturdy and it’s not a bad price.
6: Nature’s Market Fat Ball Feeder
Another model from the Nature’s Market range, this one is designed especially to house fat balls, which are a favourite with birds in the cold and difficult months. However, be aware they are a favourite with larger birds too, which is why this model has been designed to let the smaller birds in and keep the bigger ones – and squirrels – out. Some say it works, others say it doesn’t; there are a few hundred comments on this item, and we should say that overall they come out in favour.
It’s made from galvanised steel for durability, is a hanging device with chains, and is a good size with extended areas at the base for the fat balls to go in. We’re not sure it’s fair to judge on the few customers who have seen squirrels, jackdaws and pigeons use this one – no feeder can be 100% bird proof or no birds would use it – and it is very cheap indeed, so we think it’s worth looking at.
7: Peckish Secret Garden Peanut Bird Feeder
Another one from the Peckish range, and this one is also designed to be attractive as well as practical. It is specifically aimed at filling with peanuts – although we see no reason regular bird seed cannot be used – and it is nicely styled to look vaguely antique, yet is made from strong steel so will withstand the elements. This one can hold around 500g of peanuts and is quickly accessed by a screw top and bottom fitting that releases the tube – although we have seen no reports of squirrels being able to undo it!
So far so good as it appears to be squirrel-proof, and pigeons can’t get into it, but there is a problem: the feeding tube is designed with very small mesh so that the peanuts can be pecked to a safe size, but it would appear than many customers – and birds – find these opening too small. Also, there are reports of poor quality and the device breaking very quickly, and depositing its contents over the floor (and there is no catch tray). It’s up to you whether you go with the recommendations or the warnings, which appear to be the same for all of these!
8: Kingfisher Mini Lantern Seed Feeder
This small and attractive seed feeder at first appears to be something of a novelty, but when we started to look at what customers had to say about it, we were somewhat surprised. It’s an attractive design that looks like a lantern – hence the name – and that features the usual internal tube with the cage effect outside. It is perhaps the small size that makes this one successful, as the general consensus it keeps squirrels and larger birds away as they find it too small.
The small size does mean you’ll have to fill it up more regularly, but what we do like is that it comes with a nice strong hanging chain, is finished in an antique-look black, and at least has some form of solid base so will minimise the waste food that falls on the floor. It’s also very cheap, so if you want a small feeder – perhaps for a yard or small outdoor area – that attracts the smaller birds only, this might be the one.
9: Gardman Decorative Bronze Peanut Feeder
Gardman has a wide range of bird feeders – we’ve already featured a couple – and other garden accessories, and this one is designed to look attractive as well as being sturdy. It’s a bronze finish in very strong metal and includes an internal feeder – inside the cage – designed to hold peanuts. Once again, the usual complaint with peanut feeders is that the mesh is too small for the birds to use, so they rapidly lose interest and go elsewhere.
However, there are no reports of squirrels breaching this feeder so it must be strongly made, and it is reported to keep the bigger birds away which is the overall intention, so among the many buyers there are at least some very satisfied customers who appreciate the design. ‘Good and sturdy’ plus ‘no signs of rust’ are typical comments, yet there are few that say it is badly made and breaks easily. Features a solid base for collecting waste and not a bad price.
10: Petface LokTop Squirrel Proof Feeder
Our final example is a very typical model from Petface, but it does incorporate their own design ‘LokTop’ feeder, which incorporates a locking opening that squirrels cannot get into – a welcome touch. The usual design is here with the smaller opening in the wire cage so that the birds can get in – smaller birds that is, the larger ones are kept at bat – and the internal feeder, and it’s a decent size, made from strong metal, and with sturdy hanging chains.
This one comes with many very satisfied user comments including the ‘squirrels are raging’ and ‘defeated the jackdaws’ – both what we want to hear – while the only complaints appear to be that it does not last very long. If anything, we reckon this one stands up to scrutiny better than most as it garners very few poor comments in comparison to a great many very good ones. All in all, a decent, simple and yet clever feeder for a sensible price.
That’s our selection of pigeon and squirrel proof bird feeders, so is there one for you? Before we try and give you a selection, let’s recap some of the features you might want to consider.
Important Features to Look For
First, let’s consider our remit here: to find a bird feeder that lets the smaller birds in, and keeps the pesky pigeons away. Add to that deterring squirrels, and we found we had a tough job on our hands! The problem is that, no matter how you design such an item – and all of these follow the same similar design ethos of an internal plastic tubular feeder and an external metal cage – there is always going to be an enterprising squirrel somewhere that works out how to take the top off, or is not yet fat enough not to squeeze through the bars. So, while each of these works for many people, so a few other complain that squirrels have them beaten, and that bigger birds – mainly jackdaws and pigeons – can reach in far enough to feed, thus scaring away the small birds.
Furthermore, one feature we noticed missing from all but a few of these is a solid base to catch failing seed. We believe this to be a very important feature as seed on the ground attracts not only larger ground-feeding birds and squirrels, but also rats and mice. We are surprised more of these do not have some sort of solid base to help this problem.
So, is there one we would recommend? Let’s have a look and see if we can wrap this up.
Each of the models included on our list are decent bird feeders that, according to some users, will keep pigeons and squirrels away, apart from one or two that seem not to do the job. You can be sure that squirrels will try their best to get into any bird feeder, as will pigeons, but there are some that will deter them better than others.
If we were to pick any of these over the rest it would be the Gardman Natural Bird Feeder for the simple reason it received the fewest customer complaints, is clearly squirrel and pigeon proof and does the job at a decent price. The choice is yours, so all we will say is keep feeding those garden birds and, if possible, set up a separate area where the larger birds and squirrels can feed, to keep them away from the smaller birds.